By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
Soldiers and families ushered in fall with a decidedly German twist during Fort Hood's annual Oktoberfest celebration on Friday evening.
Children painted pumpkins and moon-walked in bounce houses while parents and other adults secured liquid nourishment in commemorative steins under the beer tent. Family readiness groups sold funnel cakes and other fall finger foods as kids of all ages danced to the varied sounds of Houston-based cover band "The Crisis."
Fresh from tapping the ceremonial keg along with Brig. Gen. Joseph DiSalvo, III Corps and Fort Hood deputy commander, and deejay Bret X of Waco's "The Bear," III Corps and Fort Hood Command Sgt. Maj. Arthur L. Coleman said Oktoberfest "is not just about the beer."
"It's an opportunity to bring all of our soldiers out to have fun together," Coleman said. "It's about taking care of our families and soldiers."
Additionally, he said, many soldiers and family members have spent time in Germany, "and it gives them a sense of home."
Maj. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins, who assumed command of First Army Division West during a ceremony Friday morning, said he'd been stationed in Germany during his career. Fort Hood's Oktoberfest was "authentic, because we have beer, and bratwurst, and I even saw a little girl in a dirndl," he said, motioning to a small child twirling in her traditional German costume.
At the popular pumpkin-painting station, Fort Hood spouse Adrianne Aguilar said she enjoys taking her four young children to Oktoberfest each year because it's such a family-friendly event.
"Their dad's away, so it's a good way to pass the time," said the Copperas Cove resident. Aguilar is married to Staff Sgt. Arturo Aguilar, 1st Battalion, 229th Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, currently serving in Iraq.
Nick Aguilar, 9, painted a pumpkin blue and white in honor of his football team, the Titans.
The best part about fall is "the weather," said Nick. "And carving pumpkins. It's a little messy, but it's OK, I guess."
Nick's brother, Antonio, 7, said he likes to "jump into the fall leaves" each year. Antonio's planning on dressing up as Michael Jackson or a rock star for Halloween, he said.
Rikky Addy, special events coordinator for the Fort Hood Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, estimated 5,500 people would attend Oktoberfest 2011.
That meant securing lots of beer, including Sam Adams Octoberfest, said Sgt. Justin Caple, Addy's co-planner.
Caple, who is assigned to Fort Hood's Replacement Detachment, said he encourages incoming single soldiers to take advantage of of free, fun, on-post entertainment, such as Oktoberfest.
"In my (weekly) newcomers brief, I say, 'Hey, don't sit in your barracks. There's always stuff to do.'"
Bret X, who emceed part of the event, said it was an honor to hang out with Fort Hood soldiers and families for the evening.
He called Fort Hood "huge, central, really," concerning The Bear's coverage. "We love our soldiers."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559.